What is Evolution? What is Love?2007 Oct 29
The English word "love" is an entity with multiple meanings. Under its big umbrella, it includes a continuum of meanings from sexual desire, to friendship, to altruistic care. The interesting part is that it is possible for the whole range to exist simultaneously in a relationship. However, only parts of its meanings may be true in some other relationship. For example, the newlyweds love each other, he loves his buddies, she loves her baby; same word, not likely the same meaning.
As humans, we may make use of this defect in the word, as for example in this conversation: "Do you love me?", "Yes, I do." If that is all that was said, then each person probably chose their own meaning. And the same thing happens with the word "evolution".
Promoters of "evolution" see it as a word describing a grand unified theory of biology including life emerging from rocks, into species proliferation, up to the latest germ variation. The last one is observable; the first one never was. However, evolutionists would have you believe all are equally supported in the theory. note
Evolutionists are also very invested in their theory to the level of fanatical faith. If you object to parts that are untestable, then you are ridiculed as rejecting the whole. And you are shunned. I personally know people in the field of education who carefully veil their own disbelief of aspects of evolution out of fear of the vitriolic contempt of their colleagues. However, those same vitriolic colleagues sometimes teach obsolete or falsified parts of the evolution story because they have uncritically not kept up.
Certainly the full sweep of evolution is attractive to non-religious people because it enables them to be intellectually fulfilled. Without it, they would have no explanation for their existence without being beholden to some deity. That may be the explanation for their passion. However, passion is no argument for a theory of science.
Biological principles of adaptation are observable. However, the extrapolated line of reasoning from there back to the origin of life is only superficially logical. I see it failing somewhere in the species proliferation stage - right about where scientific observability and testability fails.
Even species is another word with uncertain meaning. Biologists may use one of several meanings depending on the context. I will use a common working definition that is compatible with evolution: "species are organisms that naturally breed together". If this is our definition, then yes, we do see evolution of species today. Circumstances, adaptation or hybridization can cause this to happen.
At a high level, there are two parts of evolution: mechanisms for changing the genes, and mechanisms for controlling that change. The mechanism for control is primarily by natural selection: only genes that are fit for their environment will continue propagating.
However, it seems the mechanism for change is inconsistent across the evolutionary timeline. In reverse time order:
- At the present timeline end, it is species adaptation and hybridization. This is commonly observed and uses genetic information that presently exists in the world.
- In the middle: Mutation is the only source of brand-new genetic information and is the explanation for the grand emergence of species. (However, documented observation of this species transmutation seems to be unavailable. note)
No observations of species transmutation? I was looking for a change that brought something very new into existence - like a deer, or a carrot. There is no evidence of something like that, although there are cases of species differentiation.
This page promoting evolutionary speciation lists examples of speciation and attributes them to gene flow. Only one case (Chlorella vulgaris, listed as ambiguous) resulted in a classification differentiation higher than species (i.e. something non-trivial). Another page promoting beneficial mutations listed examples, but didn't say any of them resulted in speciation. And another decent pro-evolution site said explicitly (without attribution) there had been no observation of species transmutation.
That does not mean that the evidence doesn't exist - it is possible something on the order of the examples these sites give might yet turn up. However, all these species transmutation examples were quite modest. By that, I mean that their differentiators were modest - nothing like (for instance) the distance between a rat and a bat.
Even the paleontological evidence of species transmutation is weak. There aren't the transitional forms a gradual model of evolution would predict. Because of this, the punctuated equilibrium model was developed to explain the transitions. The lack of smooth transitions becomes the evidence for this model of abrupt transitions! What ever way you look at it though, the evidence is missing - for punctuated equilibrium and for gradualism.
In this situation, evolutionary theory is un-falsifiable. As I understand it, a theory must be falsifiable to remain scientific. In that case, can Darwinian origins remain a scientific theory?
- And, at the very beginning of the timeline is abiogenesis, the origin of life. This certainly has never been observed. For life from non-life, evolution has no mechanism at all. note
I looked diligently for a coherent explanation of abiogenesis from websites promoting evolution. However, what I found was was full of dogma, and was light on good explanation. None of them were worth linking, and most certainly there weren't any directions for making a life form from scratch.
I am an engineer, and I understand the concept of layering of complexities (e.g. materials, into parts, into sub-assemblies, into things, into systems, etc). Cells, the engines of life, can be analyzed this way. However, what I have seen in most literature skips most of the layers and only suggests how to get an incomplete set of materials for lower-level layers. For the rest of the layers, the explanations had lots of words like "probably" & "could have" with no technical content, or even indications of technical content elsewhere.
The truth is, no one has an explanation for the origin of life on this earth. Evolutionists have no workable ideas. And creationists can't explain how the creator did it. Therefore to make an assertion about it is not a matter of evidence; it is a matter of faith (or at least personal opinion).
See also The Probability of Life
Evolutionary change, therefore, happens by radically different mechanisms at different parts of its timeline. The meaning of the word evolution is different for those different times. "Evolution", therefore, looks like an umbrella word to me, and not a unified or grand theory at all. Like love it means different (almost not related) things in different contexts. However, unlike love, only selected aspects of the umbrella of evolution is even observable (scientifically).
What is Love?, What is Evolution? Well, that depends on what meaning you choose.